WADA’s Athlete Outreach team began part two of its Athlete Outreach program in Sochi last weekend, as the Paralympic Games got underway.
A team of four anti-doping proponents have been spreading the message of clean sport to athletes and their entourages throughout the Paralympic Winter Games.
WADA has its main set-up in the Mountain Athlete Village where its team of dedicated doping-free sport representatives is interacting with athletes, coaches and support personnel on a one-on-one basis, providing them with useful information on all matters anti-doping. Athletes also have the chance to take part in a unique Play True Quiz, an interactive game that has been showcased at major sporting events across the world and at previous Paralympic Games.
At the center of the WADA Outreach team is five-time Paralympic athlete Tanja Kari from Finland. Voted as the disabled athlete of the year in 1998, Tanja competed in cross-country skiing and went on to win ten gold medals. Tanja also served on WADA’s Athlete Committee from 2005 – 2009. She gave us her thoughts on the Outreach program as she departed on her travels for Sochi last week.
“I was involved in the Outreach team at the World Championships in Italy back in 2005, and I am very pleased to be returning with my WADA hat on because anti-doping is an absolutely crucial part of sport.
“We former athletes, I believe, have an obligation to educate athletes, whilst athletes also have an obligation to educate themselves and to be aware that this (anti-doping) is part of their responsibility.
“The main aim of the Outreach is to ensure that athletes come and interact with us and understand that we are here for them. Anti-Doping is a world of rules and regulations, sometimes sanctions. We are here to support the athletes and provide the information and education they (the athletes) might need. The Outreach team and its work is a great bridge between the athletes and the anti-doping world.
“While some athletes have a greater knowledge of anti-doping than others, they should all know that it is not just about the medals, it is about being aware of their responsibilities. That includes anti-doping.
“The issue of doping is a real one. It exists. I am enjoying playing my part in Sochi and helping these athletes become more aware of the dangers and consequences associated with doping.”
WADA’s Outreach Program is in operation in Sochi from March 8 – 16.